A Tale of Two Polls: Part of Porter's Case for the Heartbeat Bill Unravels

Janet Porter is pulling out all the stops to pass her anti-choice Heartbeat Bill in Ohio, using children with teddy bears, fetus testimony, prayer rallies and planes to urge the State Senate to vote on her bill, which has already passed the State House. But so far, her only accomplishment appears to be dividing anti-choice activists and irritating Republican lawmakers.

To show popular support for her legislation, Porter’s group Faith 2 Action commissioned a poll which showed a that whopping “64 percent of Ohioans agreed with the Heartbeat Bill while only 20 percent disagreed with it—more than a three to one margin.” The group used Wenzel Strategies, a polling company that claims Sarah Palin had a good chance at becoming the Democratic nominee for president, which also found that pluralities of Democrats, independents and Republicans alike all backed the Heartbeat bill. According to Porter, the legislation’s broad support is reason to give to put it up for a vote in the State Senate:

"Two-thirds of Ohioans, 8 out of 10 Republicans, 7 out of 10 Independents, and Democrats by a 5-3 margin favor the Heartbeat Bill (H.B. 125) becoming law," said Janet Porter, president of Faith2Action. "The people have spoken across the board: It's time to bring the Heartbeat Bill to a committee and to a vote."

Fritz Wenzel, president of Wenzel Strategies stated, “Given today’s deeply divided political climate, it is unusual and remarkable when a public opinion survey finds a huge majority supporting one side of a political issue, but that’s exactly what we have in these results regarding the Heartbeat Bill in Ohio. The popularity of this measure crosses all political, gender, age, and regional boundaries in Ohio, and is indicative of deep support for this issue...

"Election history teaches us that leaders who ignore such strong public opinion do so at their own political peril. The fact that more likely voting Democrats, Republicans, and independents support the bill than oppose it, and the fact that the intensity of support in favor of this issue far outstrips the intensity of those who oppose it is a strong indication there are many more reasons for Ohio state senators to support it than to oppose it,” added Wenzel.

Contrast those striking findings with the poll released today by Quinnipiac University, which found that not only do “fifty percent of Ohio voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases” but that forty-six percent of voters oppose the Heartbeat bill, while forty-five percent favor it.

While the Quinnipiac poll, which Porter derided as “biased,” still shows a statistical tie on the public’s view of the legislation, it completely undermines Porter’s claim that “the people have spoken across the board”:

Ohio voters are divided 45 - 46 percent in their support for a bill before the State Legislature that would ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Republicans support the measure 63 - 31 percent, while Democrats are opposed by a mirror-image 62 - 30 percent, with independent voters split 47 - 46 percent, the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll finds. There is no gender or age gap.



"Abortion remains perhaps the most divisive issue in the nation and there is an almost even split among Ohio voters over the fetal heartbeat bill," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Despite a partisan split over the issue, where Republicans support the measure 2-1 while Democrats oppose it 2-1, lower income voters, who tend to be Democrats, support the bill while high-income voters, who tend to be Republican, oppose it."

Fifty percent of Ohio voters say abortion should be legal in all or most cases while 44 percent say it should be illegal in all or most cases.